A Symposium is taking shape!

[By Paulo Mendes, Symposium Correspondent, in Porto]  After
getting around in Porto showing the city or hunting for sketchers, it
is now fiinally time to enter into the heart of the big event: At
9h00 in the morning, volonteers and organizers were gathering at the
main entrance of the Alfândega building. I saw many familiar faces,
including some good sketcher friends who were willing and eager to
embark in such a laborious and noble endeavour.

In
the main congress room splitted by a large curtain, a wide area
filled with chairs is separated from the other that will be open to
public. It was on the first that volonteers were given clear
instructions about their multiple tasks for that day and for the days
to come. Final questions were answered, and by the end everyone
seemed to know where to start. In a question of minutes, both halves
of the room were bustling with activity.

Among
large tables still empty, unopened boxes and busy people moving
around, the instructors check-in was taking place, some of them still
carrying their luggage while reuniting with long time friends from
previous symposiums. It was so nice to see them all, as well as some
of my own good friends who were coming from Lisbon and elsewhere.

At
the end of the morning I had finally the pleasure of meeting Rita, one of
my fellow correspondents. How nice to meet someone in person after so many weeks exchanging emails. Besides being an excellent sketcher,
Rita is a lovely gentle person, a great company to work with on the
next days, and I couldn’t resist to sketch her at the table. Little
bit afterwards, on the bus towards the port wine cellars, both of us would
meet Marina, our other equally fantastic and talented colleague whose
work I’ve been long admiring.

The
faculty was taking a tour into Poças Júnior port wine cellars.
After a short bus trip across the river, we were directed to the
reception room, where a history and explanation on their wines and
their making was given. From theory to practice, some of those wines
could be tasted, and many sketches turned out much better!

Some
time for sketching was allowed, and while the instructors were
capturing the old and typical atmosphere of the cellars with amazing
results, I was trying to capture a few of them in action. Between a
couple of failed attempts, my best succeeded results came from
illustrious victims Kiah Kiean Ch’ng and Rob Sketcherman.

On
our way back, instructors were left in their hotel and I went back to
Alfândega after a halfway errand. To my surprise, the empty and
unpacked room I left in the morning was now looking like a real
Symposium hub! I couldn’t help to be amazed on how everything was
running so smoothly: As a member of a couple of associations in my
younger years, I helped more than once to organize events by no means
as huge as this one, and I know how tiring, stressful or even
conflictuous things can become at some point. Nothing of that
could be perceived here, not a sign of a slightly somber countenance! The
atmosphere was quiet, everyone was doing their job peacefully and by
seven o’clock, time to close the doors, nothing seemed out of
place. It will never be too much to leave a word of appreciation to
this extraordinary working group, from organizers to volonteers!

What a great day this was; And tomorrow will be even better!

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